Is trick-or-treating still a ‘thing’ for kids?

Halloween sure has changed since I was a kid. It’s definitely more for the adults than it is for the youngsters.

I’m not usually at my house on Halloween night because it’s the lead up to TV ratings time and my job as an entertainment reporter has me in Los Angeles and away from Manitoba. (And West Hollywood is easily the capital of grownup foolishness and over-the-top celebration for Halloween. I’ll just say this: Lots of skin.)

I remember Halloween as a time that my brothers and I focused on our costumes in the days leading up, then motoring through our dinner on Oct. 31 and heading out as early as possible to do our trick-or-treating. The weather was always a determining factor in how long and how far we’d travel on foot that night.

The three of us would go out on our own and my parents stayed home, with my mom tallying how many kids came by the house for candy. Oftentimes we’d stop in to warm up, unload our haul to lighten the bags and head out again.

We’d call it a night outside and then head to the basement for our candy negotiations to swap out what we didn’t want and score more of our favourites.

Fast forward to 2022, I was at a mall in the early afternoon. It was unusually busy for a Monday and there were lots of kids around. In the crowd were many teenage parents going from store to store collecting candy for their dressed-up kids. I wondered if school was out because there were so many youngsters at the mall at 2 p.m. I worked at a mall in my early 20s and that wasn’t what people did back then.

It’s been years since I gave out candy at my house. Having been a manager at Party City back in the day, I had a good haul of decorations from the store. I took pride in decorating my house and being “that” place all the kids would want to stop at. Even though there’s an elementary school down the street, there was a terrible turnout that had me depressed my first Halloween in the house. I had an indication back then (about 14 years ago) that trick-or-treating had changed.

This year, I made sure my house was darkened so nobody would come up the front stairs thinking we had candy to give. I actually fell asleep on the couch during prime trick-or-treating time. But there were few lights on when I eventually stepped out and looked up and down the street. I questioned if going door to door was still a “thing.” Maybe it’s now going store to store.

My mom has reported a decline in numbers (either she remembers or keeps her tally sheets every year) even though there are more young kids in her neighbourhood than ever before, she says.

It had me wondering how much safety plays a role but also if kids are growing up so fast with their cellphones and other devices. Then again, my peers weren’t popping out babies as teens so there definitely is a shift in focus.

Do kids even care about something so juvenile as dressing up and collecting candy?

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